Texas Establishes Online Gun-Buying Check

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posted on November 27, 2019
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As part of an effort to keep individuals from buying guns illegally, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has created a website to make it easier for Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to verify in some cases that someone who wants to buy a gun can, indeed, own one.

Under Texas law, a Texas License to Carry (LTC) card allows gun owners to avoid going through a National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) check when they want to purchase a firearm. Basically, since the person has already submitted fingerprints and passed an investigation, the state allows LTC holders to use their card as an alternative permit. Now Texas is cracking down on people who have had their right to own firearms stripped from using this shortcut to slip through the cracks and purchase more guns.

Past trends indicate that fewer than 35% of LTCs are surrendered upon state request. The new website allows FFLs to enter the carry license number to make sure it’s still valid.

Texas DPS officials note that they are unaware of anyone trying to use a revoked LTC during the purchase of a firearm, but they view the new system as a way to reduce the possibility of that happening in the future. And it’s not intended as a blanket stopping of the gun purchase. Rather, if a person presents a carry license that registers as invalid, it simply means that a NICS check must be performed before the sale proceeds.

Although the DPS has been sending out notices about the website and the program, not all FFLs have heard about it yet.

An employee at Patriot Firearms in Desoto, Texas, hadn’t yet heard about the effort when contacted by a reporter, but welcomes the idea. The gun store already checks and takes pictures of everyone’s LTC during firearm purchases and, if anything seems out of order, they won’t sell without a NICS check. An easy way for FFLs to check the validity of a license could be helpful, the employee said.

An Amarillo FFL at Texas Panhandle Firearms said he knew the program was in the works, but he didn’t know it was up and running yet. He views it as another hoop for dealers to jump through if it becomes a mandatory step in the gun-buying process, though it is currently being advertised as an optional step that is designed to help them.

And in Fort Worth, another FFL said the DPS apparently hasn’t done a very good job of getting the word out yet, though he expects that to change soon enough. Typically, about half of his handgun buyers use a carry license as a way to avoid the NICS check, he said, so it might not be much of a convenience for dealers, but if it helps keep people honest, he said it might be worthwhile.

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